Foothill Gold Line celebrates progress

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Foreman Alias Avala installs the last of almost 300,000 e-clips that attach the rails to the railroad ties. Photo credit: Paige Lange

Foreman Alias Avala installs the last of almost 300,000 e-clips that attach the rails to the railroad ties. Paige Lange Courtesy

Over 300 people gathered near the future Azusa Metro station on Saturday for the Foothill Gold Line Track Completion Ceremony. This celebration honored 11.5 miles of light-rail tracks that are finished and will help connect Pasadena to Azusa.

The ceremony celebrated the completion of this section of the Gold Line by installing the last of almost 300,000 e-clips that attach the rails to the railroad ties. A sidewalk marker was also placed and revealed to highlight this step in the process.

This project serves to connect the cities of the Inland Empire to the rest of LA. The Foothill Gold Line project has created over 7,000 jobs and produced a $1 billion economic output in the region. The Pasadena to Azusa segment is funded through the Measure R sales tax that began in 2009.

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Saturday's celebratory ceremony at the future Azusa metro-line station drew in crowds from the community and surrounding areas. Photo credit: Paige Lange

Saturday’s celebratory ceremony at the future Azusa metro-line station drew in crowds from the community and surrounding areas. Paige Lange Courtesy

This is “connecting these residents and their communities to the entire Southern California region and very importantly creating new economic opportunities,” said Frank Mottek, master of ceremonies.

The projected completion date of this project is September 2015. Officials believe they are on time and on budget to complete the first of two planned segments

“The Gold Line construction project at this point has been a testament to partnerships, cooperation and competition,” Construction Authority Chairman Doug Tessitor said.

One of these partnerships was the collaboration of Jose Antionio Aguirre, Azusa downtown station artist, and Azusa Pacific University students. Aguirre has been commissioned to create a project that will serve as a historic landmark and gateway to the city. He chose to partner with the university to create an educational component to this piece that will make taxpayer dollars go farther.

“Why not work with the community?” Aguirre said.

He involved 250-300 students to help create mosaics that would complement the gateway portal’s design. This incorporates artwork of the Native American Tongva and Gabrielino tribes in a contemporary way. The designs used a traditional basket-weaving look to create a colonial-style gateway.

Despite this celebration, several speakers at the event continued to highlight that the project is not yet completed.

“Now what we need to work on … is the need to extend this line to the airport,” U.S. Representative Grace Napolitano said.

This was echoed by Tessitor as he urged participants to continue with their focus on the future.

“This is not a completion of the Gold Line project. … This is only halfway to where we need to go,” Tessitor said.

The next phase of the project extending to Montclair is planned to break ground in 2017. It has an estimated cost of $1 billion. This project is estimated to take five years once funding is secured.

The Pasadena to Azusa segment of the project began in 2010. After breaking ground, the first element installed was the Gold Line Bridge in Pasadena.

This segment includes stations in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa. Representatives from all cities gathered for last weekend’s event.

Despite the variety of challenges that speakers addressed, the project kept moving forward and on schedule.

“The past, the present and the future have all intersected right here in Azusa, the Canyon City,” Mottek said.

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